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Operation Yewtree: More Heat than Light

November 29, 2013

Another blog reposted… This was written in response to the publication of the Yewtree report in January 2013, and today, the news is again full of ‘allegations’ reported as if they were proven ‘offences’, and stories of ‘victims’ accepted without question. This is not helpful for anyone, as my blog discusses.

ESRC Moral Panic Seminar Series, 2012 - 2014

Today saw the publication of the combined report from the Metropolitan Police and NSPCC on Operation Yewtree, the investigation into allegations against Jimmy Savile. This report will undoubtedly become a primary source of evidence in the whole Savile affair, and because of this, it demands careful reading and, I believe, just as careful a response.

The report is called Giving Victims a Voice. This immediately tells us two important things: firstly, that the allegations against Savile are ‘true’ (otherwise, there would be no victims), and secondly, that ‘giving victims a voice’ is a reasonable way to approach this difficult issue. I believe that both these assumptions must be interrogated.

Firstly, are the allegations true?

The report begins by referring to ‘Savile’s reported offending’. This reminds us that what we are dealing with here is reported evidence, that is, allegations, not proven facts. The authors go on to admit that…

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